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by Carole Carson, AARP, November 21, 2008
Are you eating it? Or is it eating you?
To keep following Gayle's eating guidelines, I had to make changes, not just in my eating habits, but also in how I thought about food. Instead of viewing food as a major source of gratification, I had to learn to see food as a source of fuel and health. Instead of living to eat, I would eat to live.
I knew from past failures what didn't work: "going on a diet." I'd gone on plenty of them and remembered feeling hungry all the time, especially at night. I couldn't skip meals, either; I'd only get a headache. Limiting my food choices, like eating only cabbage for a week, also wouldn't work. Neither would cooking separate dinners for my husband and me or not being able to dine out.
Above all else, "going on a diet" implied the change was temporary. A "diet" meant "rules," which I knew I'd eventually break. This time I was looking for permanent change. Diet meant deprivation; instead, I wanted to enjoy eating.
At least I had a few assets: I liked almost all foods. Moreover, I was willing to learn, and I was prepared to give up anything that separated me from fitness.
Plus, this time I was impatient. Whereas before I might have tested the waters one toe at a time, now I was becoming a "just undo it!" person—diving in and getting the shock over with quickly. Impatient for results, I was plunging into significant eating changes.
Although following Gayle's eating program was tough initially, I soon started to feel as well as see its benefits. I woke up in the morning with more energy. Looking in the mirror gave me an instant charge. The hope I was feeling gave me a renewed sense of youthfulness. I noticed my mind was sharper and I needed less sleep—not to mention the clearer conscience I felt because I was doing the healthy thing. Silencing the constantly critical voice was wonderful; the irritable background static was replaced by a sense of anticipation.
As far as I could tell, the only thing this new eating program required me to give up was a childish, undisciplined freedom to eat anything I wanted, in whatever quantity I wanted, whenever I wanted—a fleeting pleasure at best.
Next: Carole gives birth to "the new me."
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